NASAs Ingenuity Mars Helicopter

This week NASA, with help from the UK Space Agency, are set to launch the latest Mars Rover the ‘NASA Perseverance rover’ on its way to the red planet this Thursday (30th July).

NASA’s Perseverance rover

NASA’s Perseverance rover will begin its 9-month trip to Mars, where it will be looking evidence of life on the far-off planet. UK’s own Rosalind Franklin rover was scheduled to launch in June this year however this was postponed until 2022 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

On this weeks launch, science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “UK scientists and researchers continue to play an indispensable role in the most impressive international space missions, helping to further our understanding of our extraordinary Solar System.

“The launch of NASA’s Perseverance Rover and the UK’s own Sample Fetch Rover vehicle, being developed in Stevenage, represents another critical step in building up our knowledge of life on the red planet. I wish the mission every success.”

NASAs Ingenuity Mars Helicopter
NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter

One of the more exciting elements of the NASA perseverance mission is the first attempt at powered and controlled flight on another planet. NASA’s latest rover contains the ‘Ingenuity Mars Helicopter’ which will fly short distances to test if it will be possible to use more flying probes to investigate Mars and other planets in the future.

Head of Space Exploration at the UK Space Agency Sue Horne said: “It is amazing that we are undertaking the first step of a sequence of missions to collect samples from Mars and return them to Earth. This has been on scientists’ wish list for forty years and we now have the technology to achieve it and have started the missions needed”

In 2022, the UK space agency will launch its own ‘Rosalind Franklin rover’ (built by Airbus in Stevenage) to Mars as part of the European Space Agency’s ExoMars mission which will explore the geology of Mars for signs of life, past or present.

It is reported that we are within the ‘busy period’ for trips to Mars, with Earth currently sitting within a flight-window that opens every 26 months when the two planets align for the quickest journey.  Currently, both the UAE and China’s Space Agencies have probes on their way to Mars.

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